Experimental Ebola Drugs Raise Ethical Questions; U.S. Working Group To Explore Policies Related To Experimental Ebola Treatment

News outlets explore the debates surrounding experimental Ebola drugs and report on the forming of a U.S. working group aimed at setting policies related to Ebola treatment.

Associated Press: Africans face long wait for unproven Ebola drug
“Africans seeking a drug to help contain the Ebola virus will have to wait months before a potentially life-saving experimental treatment used on two infected Americans is produced even in small amounts, officials said…” (Paye-Layleh, 8/7).

The Hill: Report: Working group to wade into debate over Ebola drug access
“A new federal working group will take an initial step toward considering whether to allow the use of experimental anti-Ebola drugs on African patients, according to a report. The Obama administration is setting up the group to weigh broad ‘principles of decision-making’ for potentially expanding access to the drugs, Reuters reported…” (Viebeck, 8/7).

The Independent: Ebola virus: British experts urge U.S. and WHO to ‘give Africans cure’
“Three of Britain’s leading Ebola specialists have said experimental treatments for the deadly Ebola virus must be offered to the people of West Africa, after two U.S. aid workers were administered with the ‘cure’ in Liberia…” (Withnall, 8/6).

New York Times: In Ebola Outbreak, Who Should Get Experimental Drug?
“Some have said it is wrong that with hundreds of Africans dying from the outbreak of Ebola, extremely scarce supplies of an experimental drug went to two white American aid workers. But what if the first doses of the drug — which had never been used in people and had not even finished the typical animal safety testing — had been given to African patients instead?…” (Pollack, 8/8).

New York Times: Second Drug Is Allowed for Treatment of Ebola
“The Food and Drug Administration helped clear the way on Thursday for a second experimental drug to be tried by people in Africa stricken with the Ebola virus. The drug, being developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals of British Columbia, was in the initial phase of human testing, which is on healthy volunteers, when the FDA last month halted the trial because side effects were observed…” (Pollack, 8/7).

Reuters: Obama administration setting up group on experimental Ebola drugs
“The Obama administration is forming a special Ebola working group to consider setting policy for the potential use of experimental drugs to help the hundreds infected by the deadly disease in Africa, an official said on Thursday. The group will include scientists and other officials from such government health agencies as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)…” (Morgan/Begley, 8/7).

Science Magazine: How two U.S. patients changed the debate about using untested Ebola drugs
“‘Experts: Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People Away,’ The Onion reported on 30 July. As so often before, the satirical story turned out to be prophetic. Until last week, there appeared to be little hope that any experimental drugs or vaccines might be used in the worst Ebola outbreak ever… But the cases of two U.S. Ebola patients who were treated with an experimental antibody cocktail have suddenly upset that international consensus…” (Enserink, 8/7).

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